Air Traffic Control Computer Issues Causing Lengthy Delays at Multiple East Coast Airports
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UPDATE: 4:45 pm ET 8/15/15
The Federal Aviation Administration said the computer problems that caused mass flight delays in the Northeastern U.S. Saturday have been resolved, according to the Associated Press.
Flights will return to normal in the affected areas — New York, Washington and North Carolina-area airports were especially hit hard — and the FAA added they would work with the airlines to get operations back up to speed.
"The FAA is continuing its root cause analysis to determine what caused the problem and is working closely with the airlines to minimize impacts to travelers," said the agency in an emailed statement to the AP.
Air travelers flying into and out of Washington D.C. and New York City-area airports Saturday face significant delays stemming from air traffic control-related computer issues, the Associated Press reported.
The glitch has grounded flights and delayed fliers for close to three hours in some cases. American Airlines tweeted that all of their east coast flights would be impacted and Ronald Reagan Airport also posted on Twitter, stating "DC area flights still on ground stop" late Saturday afternoon.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Kathleen Bergen told the AP that the agency is investigating an automation issue at an air traffic center in Leesburg, Virginia.
According to an FAA website via the AP, the computer system known as ERAM is partly to blame for the glitch. The system, which helps route high altitude air traffic, is used at 20 centers around the country.
ERAM stands for En Route Automation Modernization and “processes flight and surveillance data, provides communications and generates display data to air traffic controllers,” as per the FAA.
The AP noted that the system installation was finally completed in early 2015, years behind schedule.
The FAA told the AP it is directing high-altitude flights around the affected airspace. They added that the issue is not believed to be caused by any accident or hacking.
Citing the FAA's Air Traffic Control System Command Center's website, CNN stated that the source of the problem was a power outage at the Leesburg air traffic center.
"There are widespread impacts on airline flight operations throughout the regions," said Jonathan Dean, a spokesperson for Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to the AP. Any takeoffs and landings at airports in the region are "extremely limited," Dean said.
Air travelers, be sure to check with your carriers for up-to-the-minute information as the situation progresses.
There is an issue with air traffic control impacting all airlines' east coast flights. Please plan accordingly. http://t.co/hSJ3Skh5fD— American Airlines (@AmericanAir) August 15, 2015
Travel Advisory: An ATC technology issue is affecting service to/from D.C. area airports. Check status/rebook at: http://t.co/iTWQYxRljg— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 15, 2015
The #FAA continues working to resolve technical problem at Washington Center. Travelers should contact their airlines for flight info.— BWI Marshall Airport (@BWI_Airport) August 15, 2015
Some flights have been rerouted around the @FAANews Washington Center airspace; but not many. Still anticipate delays. More info to come.— Dulles Airport (IAD) (@Dulles_Airport) August 15, 2015
Update: @FAANews attempting to reroute flights around DC airspace. Flights in/out given low altitudes.DC area flights still on ground stop.— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) August 15, 2015
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